Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway: ALWAYS A STRANGER by Amara Royce


**Amara is hosting a TOUR WIDE Rafflecopter Commenter Giveaway for Two Digital Copies of ALWAYS A STRANGER or $20.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card.

CoverTitle: Always A Stranger
Author: Amara Royce
Genre: Historical, Romance
Release Date:
May 15, 2014
Buy Links: Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

When two worlds collide, anything is possible. . .

An international affair, London’s Great Exhibition has taken the city by storm. As its newest Royal Commissioner, Lord Skyler Ridgemont must ensure the performers are properly contracted. Among them is the delicate and graceful Hanako Sumaki. Draped in vivid silk robes, Hanako’s exotic Japanese fan dance captivates Skyler–and he longs to learn more about her. . .

But Hanako’s enigmatic employer keeps his exquisite charge very close. The consummate artist, she shows the handsome nobleman many faces, but never her true heart, which holds a desperate secret. When Skyler learns the real reason Hanako has been brought to London, he will risk his entire world to win her trust–and save her from losing both body and soul. It’s a feat that will require the type of courage only love can give. . .


Interview with Amara Royce:


ALWAYS A STRANGER has such an intriguing book summary. What were your inspirations for this story?

For me, the kernel of this story grew from identifying who the heroine would be. I’d been thinking a lot about what kinds of heroines I hadn’t seen much in historical romance, and my first book was set during the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was a massive international extravaganza. One day I happened to browse the archives of Punch magazine, a popular and long-lived British satire magazine that survived from the Victorian period into the 21st century before closing in 2002, and I was struck by some Victorian era Punch cartoons that depicted Chinese and Japanese characters. (You can find them here.) They were not at all romantic. Yet, combined with the research I’d done on the Great Exhibition, they sparked an idea about a Japanese heroine in London. How would she end up there? What kind of role could she have in London? How might London society treat her? ALWAYS A STRANGER grew from there.


Can you share with us some fun facts about the book?

Hanako is adept at wielding Tessen war fans.

Hanako’s companions all have flower names in Japanese

There’s a clothing contraption described in the story that, to my knowledge, has never existed in real life.


How would you describe Skyler in three words?

Honorable, unprepared, and determined


How about Hanako? What three words would best describe her?

Talented, trapped, and determined


Can you share with us your writing process?

Since I generally teach five courses per semester (which roughly translates into 125 essays to grade every month or so), my writing process is a bit uneven. During the academic year, my writing comes in dribbles whenever I can fit it in. During the summers, my process is much more regimented; I’ll write for several hours in the morning and then a few more hours at night after the rest of the house has gone to bed. And, while I roughly plot out the storyline, I tend to jump around from scene to scene as I write the first draft, focusing on whatever scene is at the forefront of my mind. Then I go back and see how the scenes line up with the initial plot and what plot holes or missteps I might need to fix. And then I do more revision for character and plot development and language, and finally I edit and proofread for consistency and accuracy. It’s definitely a recursive process, and I keep myself open to the possibility that I might need to scrap pieces that aren’t working and start over.


I am loving the book cover. Did you have a hand in designing it or what are your thoughts about it?

Me too! I’m thrilled with the cover! While I didn’t have a hands-on role, my publisher asked me to provide ideas for the cover. I wanted it to have the same 3-part structure as my previous book NEVER TOO LATE, and I wanted it to have only the heroine on the cover. I took a look through the artist’s stock photos and found the one that’s on the cover—I thought it was a perfect way to capture the heroine’s circumstances and character. I’ve been very pleased with how the covers have included my “wish list” items for these novels.


Who are some of your favorite authors and their works?


Charlotte Bronte – JANE EYRE, VILLETTE

Elizabeth Gaskell – NORTH AND SOUTH

Diana Gabaldon – OUTLANDER series


Mary Jo Putney – ANGEL ROGUE

Joanna Bourne – THE BLACK HAWK

This list could go on for a long, long, long time.


What’s the latest book you’ve read?


Rebecca Mead’s MY LIFE IN MIDDLEMARCHand Meredith Duran’s FOOL ME TWICE.


What’s next in store for you?

Currently, I’m working on Book 3, tentatively entitled NEVER WITHOUT LOVE. It features a 40-something widow whose youthful elopement with a stranger left her hometown in chaos. Returning 20 years later to care for her ailing grandmother, she faces the long-simmering anger of this close-knit community and happens to find out some disturbing realities about some local businesses. As she tries to make things right, she finds a surprising yet irresistible ally: the brother of the man she jilted so many years earlier. Reluctantly, they find themselves drawn together by more than just circumstances, and the fire kindled between them won’t be denied.




Only after the curtains ceased to sway and were completely still did she straighten her spine and set about unpacking her next costume. Again, the disguise had worked, thank the heavens. At any moment, she’d feared this Lord Skyler Ridgemont would recognize her or realize there was something awry. His desire to help was rather sweet, but he could not get too close. Not to her and not to the storage pieces. Their incongruities could be easily missed by casual observers—but the details would not bear up to close inspection. The inner dimensions of the chests would draw questions. From a distance, the shapeless robes hid her proportions well. He’d already spent too much time backstage.

She needed air. Reaching within her thick jacket, she loosened the binding underneath and took some deep breaths. Lord Ridgemont had spoken and acted so kindly. She’d felt that strange pull again, that dangerous impulse to reveal herself. His barrage of questions would have flummoxed her if she actually had tried to answer. When he’d tossed her the coin, she’d wanted to cast it back at his feet. How callous and presumptuous. And obviously so flush with funds that he could afford to toss gold coins at random children on a whim. She couldn’t deny the sincerity she’d seen in him—that moment when he’d decided to offer the coin and made it a casual, playful gesture. It didn’t seem calculated or condescending. But craving his goodwill would be a mistake. In the same moment, she wanted to kiss his cheek and slap it.

He was more patient than most men when dealing with an indecipherable child. His manner was light, friendly, open. His smile . . . well, it warmed her more than felt comfortable. And those eyes; curse those eyes. Ocean depths a woman could drown herself in. She’d seen such striking blue-green seas off the coast of Nagasaki when traveling with her father. It wasn’t wise to trust apparent kindness and generosity. It wasn’t prudent to assume that goodness was more than just a facade. Perhaps she only wished him different from the others—from the men who leered and groped, the men who asked what pleasures the Orient hid and sometimes tried to uncover them without permission.

No, Lord Skyler Ridgemont was not to be trusted, certainly not for tossing a…Gods, a shiny gold sovereign! She turned it over in her palm, marveling at its shine and weight. It wasn’t even tinged with grime. Takara would be delighted to see it. Before putting her sister to bed, she would unveil the little treasure, perhaps weaving a story about finding it on her walk home. Oh, she and the other women could do quite a lot with this, make this one coin stretch, if they were careful.



About the Author:


Amara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to happily ever afters.

She earned a PhD in English, specializing in 19th-century British literature, from Lehigh University and a Master’s degree in English from Villanova University, and she now teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania.

When she isn’t writing, she’s either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family. You can find her at

Connect with Amara Royce:

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Website




**Amara is hosting a TOUR WIDE Rafflecopter Commenter Giveaway for Two Digital Copies of ALWAYS A STRANGER or $20.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card.

If the Rafflecopter does not appear, you can go HERE instead.

You can follow the Tour HERE.



10 thoughts on “Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway: ALWAYS A STRANGER by Amara Royce”

  1. I enjoyed the excerpt and can’t wait to read the rest of the book.
    Interesting interview. I think it’s neat to learn how authors get their inspiration.
    Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    lorih824 at yahoo dot com


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